People with disabilities comment on Me Before You

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Me Before You has become one of the controversial films of the decade, with protests, boycotts and many articles about the film. Not Dead Yet organized protests outside movie theaters, EPC asked its supporters to boycott the film in order to not give the makers of this movie our hard earned cash, nonetheless, the clearest voices have been disability leaders.

John Kelly, the New England Regional Director for Not Dead Yet, who has read the book, was reported by the New Boston Post as saying:

“After a new injury, people are very vulnerable, because suddenly you become part of a marginalized group,” And in terms of the film, “Only a disabled character could have their suicide presented as noble. Imagine if another character in the movie had killed themselves based on their own internalized depression.” 
“People happily cry over people like me killing ourselves,” 
“Where are the films where he changes his mind and they live happily ever after?”

Link to the full article
 

Action Alert: Protest Disability Snuff Film “Me Before You”!


ACTION ALERT: 

PROTEST DISABILITY SNUFF FILM ME BEFORE YOU! 

WHEN: JUNE 3, 2016, 0NE HOUR BEFORE A SHOWING OF ME BEFORE YOU
WHERE: YOUR LOCAL MOVIE THEATER, MANY CITIES, USA & WORLDWIDE
WHAT: PEACEFULLY DISTRIBUTE A LEAFLET (TO BE POSTED ON NDY WEBSITE) 
WHY: TO OPPOSE ABLEISM & THE FILM’S MESSAGE THAT DISABLED PEOPLE ARE
BETTER OFF DEAD (AND OTHERS ARE BETTER OFF WITHOUT US) 

“Me Before You” is the latest Hollywood blockbuster to grossly misrepresent the lived experience of the majority of disabled people. In the film, a young man becomes disabled, falls in love with his ‘carer’ and they have an incredible 6 months together. Despite her opposition, however, our hero does the “honorable” thing by killing himself at the Swiss assisted suicide clinic Dignitas – so she can move on and he is no longer a burden to her. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, “Me Before You” is little more than a disability snuff film, giving audiences the message that if you’re a disabled person, you’re better off dead. 

WAYS YOU CAN PROTEST:

  • Two or more people can peacefully hand out a leaflet that will be posted on the Not Dead Yet website at notdeadyet.org
  • Send a press release or use NDY’s release (coming soon) to send to your local media. 
  • Join the worldwide social media Thunderclap
  • Twitter using #MeBeforeYou #LiveBoldly #MeBeforeEuthanasia #MeBeforeAbleism 
  • Share the articles linked below with friends and colleagues. 

For more information, see the following articles: 

For More Information or to discuss your plans, contact John Kelly (jkelly@notdeadyet.org) or Diane Coleman (dcoleman@notdeadyet.org).

Thank you to NH House of Representatives for Defeating SB426

Nancy Elliott, Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) USA

Nancy Elliott

Nancy Elliott

The New Hampshire House of Representatives recently defeated SB426, a bill to study Assisted Suicide Euthanasia. It was a surprising defeat. 

EPC USA had worked closely with advocates in New Hampshire since the bill was first filed in the Senate. EPC USA and our allies educated the public and legislators on the dangers of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, including discrimination against the disabled, elderly, and ill who are encouraged to commit suicide while the young and healthy get suicide prevention. 

The bill's proponents had called for a Commission to Study End of Life Options, particularly "Aid in Dying," but bill sponsor Senator Kelly admitted at the Senate hearing that the real target was Assisted Suicide. 

Not only, then, was this commission clearly a showcase for Assisted Suicide, the proposed commissioners were loaded with activists likely to support this radical measure. While the commission claimed it would listen to stakeholders, people who would be affected by the proposed legislation, the commission would not even have had a single representative from a disability community group or seniors group. These are the two communities in the crosshairs of this type of legislation. 

Nonetheless, the bill had come out of the Judiciary Committee with the recommendation of Ought to Pass with Amendment. 

In the House Judiciary Committee hearing, John Kelly, regional director of disability community group Not Dead Yet, advocated for the rights of the disabled and elderly. Dr. Richard Johnson of New Hampshire and Dr. Paul Saba of Physicians for Social Justice, based in Montreal, testified that doctors make mistakes, and with treatment many of these people could live for years to come. 

EPC USA's coalition members worked in the Senate and the House to educate legislators on the dangers of SB426. And at the last minute, NH House members secured enough votes to soundly reject this idea on the House floor. 

Passing this bill would not have implemented Assisted Suicide or Euthanasia, but it would have put us closer to it. And even the unbalanced commission would have created some appearance of legitimacy for any bill they pushed, no matter how radical. This is a great win for our New Hampshire advocates, EPC USA, and the citizens of New Hampshire. 

For more information on this bill (Link).

John Kelly: Assisted Suicide Laws and Bills are “Riddled with Falsehoods”

John Kelly

John Kelly

This article was published by Not Dead Yet on April 7, 2016.

On March 29, Not Dead Yet New England Regional Coordinator and Second Thoughts Massachusetts Director John Kelly testified against New Hampshire Bill SB426, which would establish an “end-of-life choices study commission.” Using the euphemisms of proponents like Compassion & Choices against the bill, John lists the ways in which the bill is “riddled with falsehoods.”

Excellent opposition testimony was also delivered by doctors Paul Saba and Richard Johnson, and former New Hampshire legislator Nancy Elliott. Below are excerpts from John’s testimony:

Chairman Rowe, Vice-Chairman Hagan, Members of the Committee:

. . . Please reject SB426 because it is riddled with falsehoods. From the words of the commission’s title to its enumerated duties, it’s clear that legalization proponents drafted the bill. It is a stalking horse for the legalization of assisted suicide.

The first falsehood is the phrase “end-of-life.” The committee should know that in current practice, the “end-of-life” is the six-month period following a physician’s terminal diagnosis. Yet of the millions of misdiagnoses every year, many are terminal misdiagnoses. We know this because of the thousands of people who “graduate” from hospice each year. …

Assisted suicide laws turn the best outcome under hospice – proving you weren’t terminal after all – into the worst possible end for people who might live months, years, or decades longer, but are instead persuaded (or coerced) under threat of agonizing death to commit suicide.

Link to the full article

Rhode Island debates assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Rhode Island State House Health, Education and Welfare Committee had a public hearing on an assisted suicide bill on Wednesday March 23.

Nancy Elliott testifies against assisted suicide in Rhode Island.

Jennifer Bogden reported for the Providence Journal on the hearings. According to the report, Margaret Dore, an attorney from Washington State, where assisted suicide is legal, urged lawmakers to:

"consider the details of the bill. In some cases, a person who has insulin-dependent diabetes can be considered to have a terminal illness, she said."
"This bill encourages people to throw away their lives,"

Linda Borg, reported in the Providence Journal, on the testimony by John Kelly, the New England regional coordinator for Not Dead Yet, who stated:

"Mistakes are so common when it comes to diagnoses, much less terminal diagnoses," 
"This is about putting the state's imprimatur on a program in which someone agrees that some people are better off dead."

Borg also reported that Thomas Nerney, director of the Institute for Health Quality and Ethics in Rhode Island testified that:

this bill makes "suicide a medical option (that) changes the very nature of medicine," adding that it would reverse centuries of trust between doctors and patients. 
"We have a terrible history in this country of segregating people with disabilities and pushing them into second-class citizenship," he said. Nerney worries that this bill might lead insurance companies and Medicaid to withhold treatment for terminally ill patients or withdraw coverage for expensive medications.

Link to the full article

John Kelly to California Governor Brown - Veto the assisted suicide bill

This message was originally published by Not Dead Yet.

Veto! Veto! Veto!

John Kelly

John Kelly

By now, most of you know that assisted suicide proponents ramrodded a bill through the California special session convened to work on the state’s Medicaid budget, after the bill was killed in the regular session. Too many legislators chose to ignore the documented record of abuses under the virtually identical Oregon and Washington laws. 

 John Kelly has put together the information on what you can do to stop this dangerous bill before it’s too late. And if you’re in need of inspiration and hope, look at what the disability community did to help defeat assisted suicide by a vote of 330 to 118 in the UK, in A Matter of Life and Death.

It’s time for Gov. Jerry Brown of California to veto assisted suicide bill AB2x 15, which passed the State Senate Friday, September 11. 

Governor Brown must veto a bill that tells old, ill, and disabled people that suicide is good for us. He must stop a bill that plays on our huge social inequalities to fully fund the only medical “choice” less well-to-do people and people of color never asked for. Suicide for certain people must never be declared a social benefit!

Now we have the chance to win an historic victory for social justice and disability rights.
So Many Ways We Can Help Stop Assisted Suicide

Link to the full article

John Kelly: Second Thoughts Against California Assisted Suicide Bill.

This letter was published by California Against Assisted Suicide on September 7, 2015.

John Kelly is the Director of the disability rights group, Second Thoughts.

John Kelly is the Director of the disability rights group, Second Thoughts.

Assembly member:

I hope you will have second thoughts about legalizing assisted suicide in California. Now especially that the California Medical Association secured the removal of any liability clause from  AB2x 15, in the words of the committee staff’s analysis (see page 17), “wanton misconduct” and “gross negligence” will go unpunished.

The replacement clause, that professional licensing boards “may sanction” professional misconduct, is toothless. As we have seen across society, self-interested institutions cannot be trusted to police themselves. Please see the case of Wendy Melcher, who was illegally injected with lethal drugs by two Oregon nurses, completely outside the scope of the law. The nurses were not referred for prosecution, but were secretly dealt with by the state nursing board. The nurses continue to practice today. 

In important ways assisted suicide laws are like death penalty laws: innocent people inevitably lose their lives. A strong consensus is now emerging against the death penalty because mistakes (witness misidentification, false confession) and abuse of the system (prosecutorial and police misconduct) lead to wrongful convictions and executions.

Mistakes and abuse in the medical system are common. People who are misdiagnosed (see John Norton), people who would respond to more treatment ( Jeanette Hall), or who would live years longer  (some participants in Oregon have lived almost 3 years after being judged “terminal”) will be led to tragically “choose” death. Assisted suicide programs have offered lethal drugs to patients with severe depression (Michael Freeland) and to people denied treatment (Barbara Wagner). And because not all families are loving or financially secure, innocent people will be bullied or worse by abusive families and beneficiaries.

Link to the full article